Practice Report: Dirk Nowitzki

Mavs F Dirk Nowitzki dishes on the impact Rajon Rondo will have on the team, how much the trade reminds him of the Jason Kidd deal and more.

In a league where going all-in is required to make any type of deep run, we know where every last Mavs chip is: squarely in the middle of the table.

Dallas has acquired All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo from the Boston Celtics in a move about as bold as they come. The message sent? The Mavericks are looking to win in the playoffs. We learned in 2011 that this league is all about what happens in June, and by trading for Rondo Dallas has put itself in position to make it farther in the postseason than the club has gone since that title run.

Rondo is an absolutely dynamic player. Much like former Maverick Jason Kidd, Rondo is seemingly always on the verge of a triple-double. The four-time All-Star has career averages of 11.0 points, 8.5 assists, and 4.7 rebounds per game. He also averages a shade under two steals per game and boasts a career defensive rating of 101, an elite mark for a player at his position. He’s also a four-time All-Defensive Team selection.

He will immediately become the best point guard on the team, and that’s saying something playing next to Devin Harris and JJ Barea, both of whom have had terrific seasons so far. Rondo has played just 68 games since the end of the 2011-12 season due to injury, but he’s back at full strength this year, leading the league with 10.8 assists per contest. He’s the pure point guard we’ve always wanted to be paired with Dirk Nowitzki. Rondo’s floor awareness and passing ability are such rare commodities, and that Dallas was able to add him without parting with a starter is cause for celebration.

Rondo is the very definition of a facilitator on the offensive end. He’s always looking to make the right pass to the right player at the right moment, occasionally¬†possessing the ball for several seconds at a time to do so. However, a hallmark of this Mavs offense is that the ball rarely ever sticks, so it will be extremely interesting to see how Rondo is assimilated into the offense. Playing alongside elite catch-and-finish roll men like Dirk and Tyson Chandler, though, will definitely make that transition much easier. He’s also never played with so many other players who can generate offense. Even when Rondo was winning a title in Boston, he was paired with Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, two players who weren’t able to create the same level of action off the bounce as guys like Monta Ellis and Chandler Parsons. That alone should also influence the way he plays. He won’t handle the ball as often as he typically does because he won’t need to.

The newest Maverick rounds out what, on paper, looks like the best starting five in the NBA. The Dallas starting lineup will now look like this:

PG – Rajon Rondo
SG – Monta Ellis
SF – Chandler Parsons
PF – Dirk Nowitzki
C – Tyson Chandler

In that group are three All-Stars and two players who have a shot at making the team one day. In that group are two elite defenders at their position. In that group are two elite pick-and-roll big men. In that group are three excellent playmakers. Seriously, what’s not to like about that lineup?

Of course, you’ve got to give to get anytime a big-time trade is made. In exchange for Rondo the Mavs sent backup big man Brandan Wright, starting point guard Jameer Nelson, reserve wing Jae Crowder, and draft picks. Wright is the team’s all-time leader in numerous offensive efficiency categories and is the second longest-tenured Maverick. Crowder had been on the team longer than anyone else save for Wright and Nowitzki. He always brought a tenacious edge off the bench that could change the feeling of a game. Nelson, meanwhile, was second on the team in three-point shooting and started 23 games for the Mavs, fifth-most on the team. We should certainly wish them the best of luck in Boston, as each player provided such an impact this season. Wright, in particular, was good for two highlight reel plays per game. But such is the business of the NBA, and Boston got a heck of a package in return for Rondo.

Practice Report: Tyson Chandler

Mavs C Tyson Chandler comments on the trade for Rajon Rondo, what it will be like playing with a pass-first point guard and more.

The Mavs bench has been a strong point of the team for years now, and the depth did take a slight hit in this deal. Wright and Crowder were primary backup options, which means more responsibility will be handed over to fellow backups Greg Smith, Richard Jefferson, and Al-Farouq Aminu. The Mavs also acquired forward Dwight Powell in the deal with Boston, giving them another big body off the bench. However, the Mavericks now have an empty roster slot, meaning another move could be soon to follow, whether it’s the addition of another center or some other type of move.

Dallas will now have a day or so to prepare for a pretty big test against the San Antonio Spurs, who come to town on Saturday. That’s going to be a heck of a challenge, especially given the turnaround time between making this deal and trying to initiate Rondo with the team. There’s no word yet on whether or not he’ll even be in uniform for that contest, and ultimately that call rests with Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle.

Once the point guard does suit up, though, we’re going to see one of the best defenders in the NBA. He’s such a long player for a guy his height, and he has the speed and quickness to stay in front of most point guards. That had been an issue for the Mavericks to this point in the season. A Rondo/Chandler pick-and-roll defense is simply a terrifying thing for an opponent to worry about. Within the last six months, the Mavs have shored up their two biggest defensive weaknesses and added a budding star at the small forward spot. That’s just an incredible run of roster-building.

Be excited. This is a heck of a move, and it’s one that clearly shows us how far the Mavericks plan on going this season. Dallas is in it for a title, and Rondo is the type of player who can help the team climb that mountain for the first time since 2011.

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